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Social Security Disability and Mental Health: What You Need to Know 

April 6, 2020

Sometimes mental health conditions are debilitating. 

The federal government believes workers who have severe mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia should not be destitute if they are unable to work and provide for themselves and their families. It is important to take care of those who can not financially support themselves due to health problems.

If you feel like your mental health condition is so severe that it makes it impossible to work or maintain employment, you may be eligible for government benefits that will help support you. It may feel like you are alone, you are not. The Social Security Disability lawyers and team at Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O. are here to help secure the benefits you need and deserve. Visit our website to get started. 

Mental Health by the Numbers 

Millions of people suffer from major mental health issues, which can put a significant financial strain on themselves and their families. 

More than 3.4 million people across America received Social Security disability benefits for mental disorders in 2018, according to data from the Social Security Administration. 

More than 45,000 people with disabilities, which is equal to about 4 percent of the population between the ages of 18 to 64, receive benefits, the Social Security Administration reports. More than 18,000 Social Security disability beneficiaries in Nebraska are impacted by mental disorders. 

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Surgeon General declared in a report that “mental illnesses are physical illnesses.” In other words, both are connected to one another and can be disabling and impact a person’s ability to keep working.

Research has also found that mental health disorders increase the risk of physical medical conditions. People who have depression, bipolar disorder are prone to dying five to 10 years sooner than individuals without mental health concerns. The cause of death for these patients is often not due to a mental health disorder, but rather other physical health problems such as cancer, vascular disease, diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, according to the study. These numbers are staggering. They also prove that mental health issues can cut a person’s life short.

But having more than one condition can create another layer of challenges to obtaining Social Security disability. The application process becomes more difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Proving you cannot recover from a condition is a hard thing to accomplish when so many ailments are at play. But it can be done.

The Social Security disability program was created to financially support American workers who experience long-term disabilities that prevent them from participating in the workforce. 

The majority – more than 85 percent of people enrolled in the Social Security disability program are considered disabled workers; 11.4 percent are disabled adult children, and 2.6 percent are disabled widows, according to the Social Security Administration’s 2018 annual report. Disabled adult children are most likely to experience intellectual disabilities, according to data from the Social Security Administration

The largest percentage of disabled workers are between the ages 60 and 64. To qualify for Social Security disability, you must show that you cannot perform work you used to be able to do; and the Social Security Administration must conclude that you are unable to transition into a different line of work or any job as a result of your medical condition. Lastly, your disability must have lasted more than one year, or should be expected to last beyond a year or will lead to death. Social Security disability pays for full disabilities, and the administration will not consider short-term or partial disabilities. 

Whatever disability you have, it must “significantly limit your ability to do basic work such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering – for at least 12 months,” according to the Social Security Administration. Those who do not meet this qualification will not be found to be disabled. 

It is possible for anyone who wishes to gain Social Security benefits for a personality disorder that causes the person to not be able to work over a long term period. To receive such benefits you must prove that your condition. 

The following disorders may be eligible for Social Security benefits:

These mental health issues must be well documented by medical professionals. Those seeking benefits should have already sought medical treatment and mental health therapy. You must prove, despite improvement and treatment, you are unable to work any job.

The Social Security Administration has detailed definitions for each of these medical conditions. The legal definitions can be complex and require significant amounts of documentation to prove. All of the criteria must be met to qualify for disability benefits. 

It is crucial that your medical records clearly document the severity of your conditions, and how they impact your daily life and ability to function. If you do not have a prolonged history of treatment, Social Security may request that you participate in an examination by one of their mental health experts. It will also be extremely helpful for your doctor to describe your limitations to Social Security in a “provider statement” that our office can request on your behalf. 

For example, if you have been diagnosed with a personality disorder, your medical file should document at least one of the following behaviors:

  • Distrust and suspiciousness of others
  • Detachment from social relationships
  • Disregard for and violation of the rights of others
  • Instability of interpersonal relationships
  • Excessive emotionality and attention seeking
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Excessive need to be taken care of
  • Preoccupation with perfectionism and orderliness
  • Recurrent, impulsive, aggressive behavioral outbursts.

Why Choose Us? 

Our attorneys have legal expertise in Social Security law. Handling the process by yourself can be stressful. This process may be easier if you have a legal professional by your side guiding you. Our attorneys are caring, compassionate, and thorough. We understand the complicated paperwork and know how to make your case the strongest possible to be eligible for Social Security disability. 

Many initial applications are denied by the Social Security Administration due to errors in the application or lack of sufficient information to support the case. While not required by law, legal assistance with preparing your Social Security Disability can greatly improve your chances of receiving the benefits. Having an attorney could only strengthen the documentation and argument in favor of your application. Plain and simple — applicants who have legal representation are more likely to receive Social Security disability.

Handling a Social Security disability claim can feel overwhelming. Our team can help you through this process so you never feel alone. There’s a lot to know about the laws that apply to disability claims. It can be confusing and stressful. Leave the hard work to experts. We understand the Social Security disability system.

Watson & Carroll has been serving Nebraska since 2011. We are dedicated to providing aggressive representation to clients facing a variety of injury-related legal issues, including Social Security disability, workers’ comp claims and medical malpractice. We have offices in West Omaha, Midtown Omaha, and Sioux City. 

Please call 402.991.2100 to speak to an attorney today or fill out our contact form and someone will reach out to you right away. 

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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